By Olivia Cahoon
Architectural and professional décor companies turn to digitally printed window media for use in small- and medium-sized offices as well as corporate buildings. Depending on the material used, a digitally printed window graphic can serve as both a decorative element as well as provide privacy.
Print service providers (PSPs) should consider reaching out to architectural and décor companies to pitch window graphic services. In doing so, they expand into new fields and provide an opportunity for repeat services as companies rebrand or restyle their offices.
Digitally printed media offers corporate and office environments exceptional custom decorative elements as well as meets practical objectives.
According to Jim Halloran, VP sales and marketing, Lintec of America, digitally printed media is a great design element for corporate spaces. “It gives the end user ultimate control and authority of their space. It is great for both branding and privacy purposes. Companies can now print logos and incorporate elements that mean something to the company into the design. Also, it could be as permanent or temporary as the customer would like.”
“I like to call this functional art—graphics which are used for décor, while serving a functional purpose as well,” adds Lily Hunter, product manager, textiles and consumable supplies, Roland DGA Corporation.
Corporate and office environments seek innovative designs to help recruit talent and communicate company culture. Gary York, wide format product manager, Agfa Graphics, believes that in this industry, digital printing offers an efficient and less expensive method for updating office design.
“There is a design trend in office décor to strategically integrate natural elements throughout the workplace, which is accomplished by digitally printing natural scenes on media that adheres to walls, windows, and even floors,” shares York. These applications are also fairly easily installed and removed without damaging surfaces.
Digitally printed media also offers practical benefits. For example, York says digitally printing window graphics for a glass enclosed meeting room meets privacy objectives. “Graphics are easily customized with corporate logos and designs that reflect a company’s industry or communicate their culture.”
Kaz Kudo, associate marketing manager, graphic systems division, Fujifilm North America Corporation, agrees, citing environmental graphics as a great method for printed products to be used for practical functions such as dividing space, providing information, or elevating a space by providing ambience.
Additionally, companies with offices throughout the country or even nationwide can customize graphics to a particular region. For example, an office in Vail, CO might opt to display a mountain view while the Los Angeles, CA office might choose an ocean or beach scene, says York. “Digital printing offers a high level of creativity and helps communicate in an aesthetically pleasing manner.”
Jeffrey Stadelman, graphics marketing manager, Mactac Distributor Products, believes corporate/office environments seek digitally printed media to allow visitors and employees to see the company’s branding as fun imagery from the moment they enter the front doors. “It’s a unique way of creating a specific look for visitors and employees alike.”
Architects, corporate offices, and individual client firms demand digitally printed window media in corporate/office settings.
Darren Speizer, VP of sales, Drytac, believes there is a combination of demand from both architects and individual client firms. “Customers and retailers are becoming more aware of customizable solutions and requesting them,” he comments.
Darrell Adams, VP, SCITOP-USA LLC, says individual client firms drive demand for office window films for a few reasons. One example, printable dry erase window film serves as a writing space for offices with excessive glass, allowing employees to adapt to the space allotted to them in creative way. “Office workers also like to personalize their individual office. Window films provide an ideal format to decorate or make window/glass areas more functional and can easily be removed with little effort and no residue remaining on the glass when removed.”
While architects play a key role in new buildings and major renovations, Phil Hursh, owner, NuConCept, believes client firms are a more important driver for window media in corporate/office settings. He says often corporate marketing designs and issues their corporate identity strategy without an architect involved.
PSPs should consider connecting with architectural/décor companies to pitch window graphic services. This provides an opportunity to receive repeat jobs such as rebranding and restyling offices.
When reaching out to architectural/décor companies, PSPs should demonstrate the benefits of using all types of window media. According to Hunter, many buyers may associate window graphics with one way view media, which doesn’t seem appealing, especially for indoor or upscale décor. However, a variety of printable window media that these companies may not be aware of is available, like printable etched or frosted glass media and optically clear media.
Joey Heiob, technical service representative, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions, encourages PSPs to reach out to architectural companies. Although architectural work can be viewed as more difficult, as it is a specified business with a work schedule that can last 12 to 24 months, he says window films are attractive offerings for these companies.
Furthermore, window graphic services can help transition PSPs to marketing advisors—especially as short-run customization is becoming increasingly popular for environmental graphics and interior decorations, points out Kudo. A PSP’s knowledge of the print process combined with its experience in using the material is valuable.
According to Greg Maze, senior brand and sales manager, Neenah, PSPs that connect with architects or interior design firms have the opportunity to get in on the ground floor and inspire creative thinking around the advantages of digitally printed media.
In addition to architectural/décor companies, PSPs should be aware of other decision makers and influencers with equal or greater control in a company’s interior design decision. Hursh says corporate marketing or office headquarters that design, value, and control corporate identity likely have more say than architectural/décor agencies. “Likewise, advertising agencies under contract to corporate marketing are drivers of corporate identity campaigns.”
Window Material Types
A variety of digitally printed window materials are available for corporate/office settings. Each product is specifically designed for window displays and serves a different purpose. Dione Metnick, product specialist, S-One Holdings Corporation, lists options including frosted adhesive vinyl, clear gloss or matte, color frosted, white, PVC-free grip/cling materials, perforated window vinyl, static cling, curtains, and fabric window shades.
In terms of printable films, clear, optically clear, and perforated films are common. Tim Boxeth, marketing manager, 3M Commercial Solutions, believes optically clear films are ideal for the best see-through experience. “These can produce some unique designs by layering inks, especially white. They even allow you to have one image on one side and another on the other side,” he explains.
For privacy purposes, perforated window vinyl is available in different perforation patterns in a matte finish to cover windows, suggests Jason Amato, print production manager, Dietzgen Corporation. “It typically allows the person on the inside of the window to see outside easily and it makes it difficult for the person on the outside of the window to see inside,” he explains. It also works well for permanent applications where privacy is a priority.
Window cling is available in gloss white or clear film without adhesive, useful for indoor temporary applications. Amato says installation is easy and the graphic is repositionable if necessary without affecting its ability to cling to glass. “Window cling is a great product for graphics that change frequently, like motivational quotes or graphics used repeatedly over the course of time.”
According to Matt Meyer, president, Plastiprint Sales Company, optically clear window cling films are ideal for front windows because the film doesn’t obstruct viewing. For privacy settings, he suggests matte/frosted clear film because it provides the proper amount of coverage while also offering enough light to pass through so the office isn’t dark.
Vinyl window media, clear or opaque, is available in a gloss or matte finish with different adhesives. Adhesive can be permanent high tack, which is useful for long-term applications, or it can be repositionable low tack for temporary applications, explains Amato. Opaque products are well suited for providing complete privacy and clear products are well suited for a stained glass effect.
“The finish can create more or less privacy and can work with different lighting,” recommends Cory Jones, associate product manager, GBC/SEAL, part of ACCO Brands. For example, a matte finish may work better for graphics in a densely lit space to reduce glare while a clear finish creates a translucent appearance with privacy without completely blocking light.
Lastly, frosted window films simulate the appearance of etched glass and are available as a printable product. “The unprinted product provides privacy and it does not affect the amount of light that enters the room,” says Amato. It’s useful for creating special effects on glass or simulating a pearlized finish, however it may alter the amount of light that enters the room.
There are also frosted scratch-resistant films that change from optically clear to frosted depending on the viewing angle, adds Halloran.
A Different Type of Sell
When dealing with architects and individual client firms, the sell differs from traditional print customers. Communicating with the architectural/professional firm and end user/customer may reach unfamiliar territory.
While PSPs must meet similar expectations for a clean, on-brand job, they’re also providing a graphic more focused on a pleasing appearance than creative, effective advertising, says Heiob. “Tying the graphics into the office space is an added challenge that means you’ll need to prove your eye for design to the architecture firm or company that is using the window graphic.”
The communication between architects and end users needs to be precise with project conditions defined from the beginning, suggests Anja Falkenberg, director marketing and sales, ASLAN, Schwarz GmbH & Co. This includes both the vision but also the budget. She offers, “the greatest idea has no value if costs are the weak point.”
According to Matt Buckley, director of business development, wide format market, GPA, for traditional print customers the sell revolves around practical concerns such as product features and benefits. By contrast, he says architectural and professional firms are more concerned about the look, feel, and texture of the materials and how it shapes the environment.
For a successful sale, PSPs should be knowledgeable of the different printable window films in order to make informed recommendations to both the architectural and professional firm. “Most corporate clients and many architectural clients are not aware of the latest advances in window films. And they usually are quick to use these materials in designing their own office window graphics,” adds Adams.
Alternatively, many times architects specify the media type for the job—reducing the PSP’s control. “The architect is already going to have what they want in mind and it is the responsibility of the PSP to provide this,” offers Nate Goodman, product manager graphics, Ritrama Inc.
The act of installing a window graphic may not differ environment to environment, but attention to detail is even more prominent.
“The mechanics of the installation may not differ significantly, but the number of considerations for installers is more extensive,” adds Jodi Sawyer, market development manager, FLEXcon. This includes viewing angles, visibility, lighting, space accessibility, permits, and environmental changes depending on region.
According to Boxeth, printed window graphics are typically larger graphic panels and can require a wet application to provide smooth, bubble-free graphics. “Sometimes you have to wait a day or two for any residual moisture to evaporate and provide the clarity you anticipate,” he explains.
Installation also poses scratching dangers as architectural images usually include optically clear portions. To avoid this, Goodman suggests using a professional installer familiar with proper wet installation techniques to provide the proper look.
“A primary feature to look for is scratch resistance,” suggests Halloran. “This allows the clear areas of the graphic to stay clear and clean from micro scratches or even larger scratches ruining the surface.”
Functional and Stylish
Corporations seek customized décor and brand promotion in their offices. To meet these needs, PSPs offer window graphics for both aesthetic and practical functions. Print providers can opt for a traditional end user relationship or extend their services to architectural/décor companies to further their reach into this field and earn repeat business.
Dec2018, Industrial Print Magazine